Ask LH: Can You Vacuum Pine Needles From Your Christmas Tree?

Ask LH: Can You Vacuum Pine Needles From Your Christmas Tree?
Image: Getty

The festive season is right around the corner. No, seriously, it’s two weeks away. How did that happen? I’m still struggling to process the year that’s been, let alone come to terms with the fact that another Christmas is almost here.

Nonetheless, there’s still no denying that Christmas cheer is definitely in the air. From the flashing lights in people’s yards to Mariah Carey and Michael Bublé dominating the airwaves, it is hard to ignore the textbook signs that Santa is about to come to town. Oh, and who could forget the fresh scent of the pine trees that stand proudly decorated in living rooms?

Speaking of, if you favour a real Christmas tree, as opposed to an artificial one, you’d know that these trees shed. A lot. If that’s the case, then you’d also be familiar with the trials and tribulations of having to clean up said fallen pine needles.

Because we are fickle humans obsessed with the powers of a vacuum, everyone’s first thought would be to Hoover up those bad boys. But I’m here to warn, no urge you not to do that. As you will soon discover, vacuuming up pine needles from your Christmas tree will do much more harm than good.

As such, this week’s Ask LH is dedicated to investigating whether or not you should vacuum your fallen pine needles.

Why you shouldn’t vacuum pine needles

Sure, technically you can vacuum up the pine needles that have fallen from your tree, but just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Turns out pine needles can really do some damage to your vacuum.

Once sucked up, the needles will stick together and form a blockage in your vacuum, meaning that it will continually cut out and maybe even eventually break entirely.

This is not good news for you or your vacuum, especially if you’ve got a pricey Dyson that would break your heart (and possibly your bank account) trying to fix.

And please, don’t use a robot vacuum to pick up your Christmas tree needles. Those poor things don’t stand a chance trying to scoop up pine needles that are sometimes the same size as them.

How to clean them up

Unless you want to individually separate the pine needles into groups small enough not to get clogged and then empty the vacuum out after sucking up each group, I recommend you try some alternatives.

Before you jump on your impulses to whip out the vacuum, try using a rubber broom or rubber brush first. Rubber bristles do a far better job at picking up pine needles than a regular broom. As you could imagine, the natural bristles and the pine needles will become best friends and stick together forever.

Well, not forever, but it will be extremely difficult to pull the needles off without causing a mess.

Another option you have is using lint rollers. Yes, lint rollers. Obviously, this won’t be efficient if you have a large number of needles on the floor, but it will work wonders on getting those pesky little ones that get stuck on your clothes or furniture.

If, for whatever reason, you do decide to use a vacuum then make sure you’ve emptied it before using it. This way, there will be more space for the bulky needles and your vacuum won’t cut out as frequently. You should also empty it again after vacuuming so the needles don’t latch onto the interior and wreak havoc next time you use it.

If you have the option, using a hose or crevice attachment on your vacuum will make it a little easier to suck up the needles as opposed to the regular head attachment.

Christmas Tree
Image: Getty

How to prevent them from going everywhere

There are some ways that you can prevent, if not limit, the number of pine needles that will cover your floors.

The first suggestion is to water your Christmas tree regularly. In doing so, you’ll be able to prevent extensive loss of needles and keep the tree happy and healthy. The next best bet is to have a large tree skirt. If your needles do start to drop, they will hopefully land on the tree skirt, which will make it easier to clean. All you’ll need to do is fold the skirt up and transport those suckers out of your house.

There is also a handy tip for when you are transporting your tree to avoid needles going absolutely everywhere. If you wrap the tree up in a sheet or something similar when you are carrying it, there won’t be needle carnage all over your floors.

What to do with pine needles

If you are wary about just chucking out your tree’s needles, don’t worry because there is a much more ecological way to discard of them.

According to Green Matters, pine needles are actually a good source of carbon for the “brown” section of your compost. In saying that, however, they do take a while to break down and some people believe they tend to make the soil slightly acidic. But that can be a good thing for plants that love acidic soil. They might make good mulch, though, because they aren’t too dense.

If you keep reading the Green Matters article, you’ll see they recommend turning your pine needles into tea. I would warn you against doing that because some needles (especially Australian pines) are highly toxic. So maybe skip that suggestion.

Heck, maybe stick a couple in a jar of water for some gorgeous and delightfully scented décor.

We just ask that you keep your vacuums safe this festive season and don’t forget to buy presents for your loved ones. Reminder, Christmas is just two weeks away so get on top of that. Here’s a handy Christmas countdown you can stare at with heavy anticipation.

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